Part IIIIIII - Harry

Harry's lips was clamped so tightly between his teeth he was starting to taste a pungent coppery taste in his mouth. His eyes were wet and his hands were trembling as they held the phone to his face. Louis was crying on the other end. He was doing his best not to show it,

but he was and Harry could tell. Harry had always been able to tell, when Louis' words became clipped, not from attitude but from fear, when his voice wavered with trepidation instead of mischief. Harry had always been able to tell. His boy was crying, and he'd called him.

And Harry had missed the call. "Fuck," Harry gritted out as he listened to Louis prattle on nervously about being in Mexico. Then he jerked back like someone struck him when Louis quiet velvety voice murmured about THEM being in Mexico. What exactly had he missed?

"Maybe you. Do you think I wanted it to be this way, Haz?" Louis continued to talk, obviously spiraling now, his sniffles more obvious. Harry suspected he might be drunk. "Please know this isn't what I wanted. I would have been free with you if life had been different."

"What?" The word fell, heavy and surprised from Harry's mouth, no louder than a whisper, not loud enough to drown out Louis following frantic words. But it crashed to the floor like a train wreck Harry had no hope of stopping. "What?" He murmured again when the line went dead.

He couldn't believe what he'd heard. Couldn't let himself hope about the implications of the statement. Louis was having a rough night, that's all it was. Probably the product of too much to drink and not enough company so far from home. Being in a place that used to be

special to them must be hard after having so much contact with Harry lately. No, Harry didn't dare hope it was true. He did call him back though, because he was crying, and because it was Lou. He may be able to stop himself from hoping, but he could never stop himself

from loving Louis. He'd been trying for so many years now. He wasn't trying anymore. He knew it was pointless now. Louis answered on the third ring. "Harold," Louis answered dryly, but Harry smiled at the sound, at the cheeky nickname, at the familiarity.

Harry knew this phone call could only go one of two ways, knowing how Louis was right after a huge display of vulnerability. Either he'd be grumpy and closed off, or he'd be over the top flirtatious and funny to try and distract. Harry knew immediately this wasn't grumpy Lou.

He found it best to let Louis lead in these situations, to let him talk himself down until he was ready to address what had happened, so Harry settled into his role easily. Following Louis' lead. "Lewis," he said back playfully. "What do I owe the pleasure of this late night

call?" Louis slurred, obviously drunk. Harry frowned a little and settled into the chair beside his window. "Not in the same timezone, remember?" Harry reminded him gently. "How could I forget?" Louis exclaimed. "Been swapping hemispheres longer than we shared beds, yeah?"

"Louis," Harry said cautiously, remembering the way Louis had reacted when Harry had casually brought up their past. Under the drunken, playful tone was the same vulnerable pain the voicemail contained. "Relax, Harold," Louis brushed off. "It's fine, I don't care."

"You don't care, then?" Harry asked, feeling miffed by the dismissal despite himself. This is how they always ended up fighting in the past too. Louis would say something careless trying to protect himself and Harry would let it hurt him even though he knew Louis didn't

mean it. He always knew exactly what drove Louis to sharpening his razor tongue and he KNEW it had nothing to do with how he actually felt about Harry. But Harry still hurt like it did. He still felt it like the blow was meant for him. "Bit pointless, innit?" Louis asked

the flirtation in his voice gone, replaced with the gentle cover of guilt. That was a pleasant change, how quickly Louis found remorse for his careless words. Usually Louis would hold tightly to them, egotistically trying to justify them because he was that afraid of being

hurt. He hadn't even put up a fight this time. Harry hadn't even had to really reprimand him. Louis had grown so much since they last did this dance. "Caring?" Harry asked. It was quiet for a moment and then Louis sighed. "Yeah," he said. "I don't think it is," Harry said.

"No?" Louis said. "Take it you got my message?" "Why do you think I called?" Harry wondered. "I don't need your pity Harold," Louis said, but there was no heat behind the words. "I had a moment but I'm fine now. So you can go back to whatever it was you were doing."

"Hey, don't be like that," Harry scolded lightly. "I don't pity you, you know that. I'm calling because I care." "Harry Styles cares," Louis hummed. "I've always cared, Lou," Harry mumbled. "Don't be hurtful just for the sake of it." "I'm sorry," Louis said, defeated.

"It's fine, I just want to know if you're okay," Harry said. "Like really okay. We should talk about what you said, Lou." "I cant," he whimpered. And there it was, the last straw, the last piece of the mask falling away. His words were still slurred, still sharp along the

edges, but the defense was gone. He might as well be weeping again. Harry dropped his face into his free hand and clenched his eyes shut. He hated not being able to pull Louis into his arms when he sounded like that. "You can't talk about it?" Harry asked.

"No," he whispered. "I cant." "Why, love?" Harry asked gently. He rubbed his thumb over the top of his hand in a comforting way, a way he wished he could do for Louis. "Because it hurts, Haz," Louis continued to whisper. "It hurts to still want you SO bad."

"You aren't alone in that, Boo," Harry told him honestly. "You're not the only one." "We aren't any good for each other," Louis argued pitifully. "We don't know each other anymore," Harry said. "Things are different now." "Then why does it all still hurt the same?" Louis asked

"Lou," Harry cooed. He rocked gently in his chair, trying to soothe with every part of his body, but he couldn't reach Louis. He couldn't make him feel better. "I wish," Louis started and then cut himself off with a harshly exhaled breath. "What do you wish?" Harry wondered.

"I wish you could come here," Louis said under his breath, like he was scared of even just the words. "So we could really talk." "I have a show in a couple of days, babe," Harry said regretfully. Louis sniffled and cleared his throat. When he spoke again he sounded

less like he was crying and more like he was shutting down. Harry could practically feel the door closing. "I know that," he said. "Just...wishing." "You should come here," Harry told him, a bit of hope creeping up into his own voice. "You know LA has no place for us, Haz,"

"We could make a place," Harry tried one last time. "Maybe the only place we belong is on this long distance line, Harry," Louis said, and it sounded like the click of a lock on the door Harry had been standing on the outside of for much too long. "Thank you for calling me."

"Louis, please think about it, yeah?" "I have to go," Louis said. "Good luck with your shows, darling. I know you'll be fantastic." "Louis, please," Harry tried one last time but the line was already dead. Louis was already gone...again.

"Ready to go?" Jeff asked when he popped into Harry's hotel room. He wasn't, but he didn't have much of a choice. "Let's get this over with," Harry grumbled, and he did his best to put the conversation out of his mind, but not before asking Jeff to save him two tickets

for each of the upcoming shows. VIP tickets. When Jeff asked why, he simply said, "Just do it, Jeffery."

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